Friday, March 30, 2007

Running for Your Life-Part 9

When I hit the mile twenty-five marker, I began to experience something that is often talked about by many runners but seldom experienced, at least by me. I got the runner’s high. At least that is what I think it was, the runner’s high or the natural painkillers. Perhaps it was simply jubilation. Not sure exactly. All I know is that at that point, I was absolutely sure that I was going to finish. Nothing hurt. I was not really very tired.

Every few steps I would think of finishing and tears would well up in my eyes. I tried to block out the picture of the finish line in my mind and that only made me run faster. Not sure what my last mile pace was but I know it was my fastest, by far, of the last four or five. Probably around a 7:30. Fortunately, the Richmond Marathon finishes going down hill. To this day, my memory of finishing the race is going the opposite way of the direction the race actually finishes.
That is strange. I think I was having a very strange experience indeed.

The emotions of the last few miles continued to build as I came down the last few hundred yards. I have a picture of myself with a contorted tearful face as I came across the finish line.
As a former football player, and one who fashions himself a man’s man, I was a bit embarrassed. But only for a moment. As I stood there in my great heaves of sobs, I noticed the same thing going on around me with runner after runner. Here we were, finishers, survivors. Scattered here and there were battered but victorious warriors, a great number of them in tears, not because of pain but because of victory, because of achievement.

Since that first marathon, I have finished two more. Neither of them produced the same emotional state as the first. But in their own way, they did provide milestones of significant and meaningful personal accomplishment.

I have learned a few things since that first marathon. I have learned things about myself. I have learned some things about running. And from these, most importantly, I have learned some things about life.

You may never run 26.2 miles, but if you are reading these words, you are already in a marathon, the important one, called life. In all of your endeavors, as you run, remember that the second half is always downhill.

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